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Friday, 10 August 2007

Huns shun UK qualifications

You probably recall something about the EU allowing the transportability of qualifications; as fine as this sounds in theory, the Hun clearly doesn't think it applies to them.

Before using marine GMDSS VHF radio in the UK, one needs to pass an exam and get a licence. The course is normally one day. Fairly simple stuff - the phonetic alphabet, mayday and pan pan procedures, channel and power use, standard phrases and usages. How hard can you make using a radio? At the end of the day, you will get a Short Range Certificate issued under the Wireless Telegraphy Act. And that's that. Or not.

The Hun Foreign Ministry has decided that the UK SRC isn't sufficiently constipated to allow us to pollute the Bosch airwaves, and if we're there for any length of time we will have to take the Hun exams.

And the bloody people can't even speak English properly.
Passport renewal - a reminder

Although I've got about four years left on my passport, as soon as the kids are back in school I shall be renewing it. With a nine month credit from my current one, it will give me until about June 2018 without being treated like a common criminal by the government. This news today in the Grauniad that passport applications in the near future will need us to give all ten fingerprints for the government's database.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Cracks deepen in US - UK military differences

Despite being the closest of allies, the US and UK approaches to infantry operations are as different as chalk and cheese. America favours throwing its heavily armed troops in full frontal assaults; the UK prefers a rather more delicate probing and outflanking approach. America favours the use of massive suppressive fire and artillery and air support at the slightest threat; the UK prefers a rather more surgical approach.

This is nothing new. The differences have been apparent from June 1944 when our two nations landed together on the Normandy beaches. We used scores of Hobart's 'funnies' and landed to the side of German strongpoints, taking them from the side and rear. As 'Private Ryan' graphically shows, US commanders declined our offers of specialist armoured vehicles and landed their forces directly in front of German strongpoints.

Now, I mention this because I know very well that professional soldiers take great pride in their achievements in the field. Each will think its tactical approach better. But the public comments on tactical differences between the UK and US in Iraq and Afghanistan by officers of both sides are leaking out to the press and the cracks are becoming apparent.

The latest makes the Guardian headline 'British generals blast 'cowboy' US troops'. This follows British commanders in Iraq belittling the US achievements in Baghdad, and in a tit-for-tat retaliation a US commander proclaiming that the UK had been 'defeated' in Basra.

Now, if these gentlemen would all 'safe' their handbags for a moment, they may realise that their frustration comes not from any inherent operational incompatibility between us, but because we are both trying against hope to carry out idiot campaigns started by idiot, corrupt and incompetent politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. The sooner we all focus the invective where it belongs, the better.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

End of Summer may bring EU's vultures home to roost

As families were out in force at the weekend collecting a bumper blackberry crop, the rosehips glow like LEDs in the hedgerows and grapes and apples hang heavy from their boughs, comes news that vultures with a seven foot wingspan may soon gather in the branches of the London planes in the local park.

Not global warming this time, but the EU. For centuries the stock keepers of the Pyrenees lived in harmony with the European vulture; as the 'Mail' puts it
Wheeling over their flocks and fields, the birds were seen as neither a threat nor even a nuisance, but as a vital part of the ecosystem. For when farmers had to dispose of an animal carcass, they simply took it to one of the hundreds of "maladares", carcass dumps, scattered across the mountains. There, the vultures would gather to do their work. It was a system that benefited both man and bird.
A 2006 EU directive that banned the dumping of animal carcasses has left the birds short of about 8 tonnes of meat a day, and they are hunting across Europe for carcasses. The ten thousand birds can cover up to 250 miles a day, and some have already been spotted as far away as Finland.

The Mail also carries a story about eastern Europeans eating our swans and carp. Now, I know carp is a Polish delicacy; a carp on a Polish Christmas table is as traditional as a goose on an English one. The poor devils are rightly mystified by our native fishermen spending hours catching one, and then carefully returning it to the water. And roast swan was once enjoyed on England's richer tables until our more enlightened age imposed a swingeing fine or jail sentence for collecting this food from our outdoor larder. Last year my local paper carried a story about Albanians who had taken a donkey from a nearby sanctuary. And had eaten it.

The Mail's stories must be taken with a pinch of salt, of course. Or paprika, perhaps. But the image of our swans and ducks disappearing from the parks to be replaced by brooding European vultures is a metaphor too attractive for a Eurosceptic such as I to pass up.

Monday, 6 August 2007

The enrichment of English by Arabic

Arabic not only gave the west the concept of zero (unknown to the Romans) but has given the English language words many regard as quintessentially English; admiral, arsenal, algebra and of course alcohol. And that's just a few of the 'a's.

Moderate Muslims are now encouraging the use of two further words. Whilst the news services have made us familiar with jihad (holy war) and mujahideen (holy fighters), these friends of humanity and followers of the Prophet (pbih) urge us to use ' hirabah' (waging war against society) and ' mufsiduun' (corrupters or evildoers).

I for one am happy to rise to the suggestion. Hirabah and mufsiduun it will be from now on. Would that the BBC would follow this lead.
Who was the greatest Liberal? Ralph Harris, of course.

The libdems are holding a poll to find the most important Liberal in British history. On the card is a woeful field - Gladstone, Mills, Lloyd-George and Keynes. Roy Hattersley writing in the Grauniad today argues for Gladstone in preference to Mills; liberty, he argues, comes only from surrendering your freedoms to the State. He is quite bonkers. Completely out of touch. Take this paragraph;
Only cranks believe that now. If it were a generally held view, we would not prohibit the use of recreational drugs or require passengers in the back seats of motor cars to wear safety belts.I was a member of the cabinet that first discussed the desirability of making back-seat safety belts compulsory. Millite ministers initially objected. They were reconciled to the "infraction of liberty" by the argument that a passenger flying through the windscreen might injure the pedestrian whose life had initially been saved by the emergency stop.
In London I know of no-one except the parents of fractious children who makes use of rear seat belts. All black cabs were fitted with them; they lie completely unused, squashed behind the seat cushion. In ten years I have not seen one cab passenger with a seat belt. Police patrol cars in which the rear seat occupants are un-belted cruise along queues of traffic in which scores of un-belted rear seat passengers get on with their lives. Hattersley's inept but well-meaning attempt at intervention has been dismissed by the people of England. They prefer to make their own assessment of risk.

And herein lies the nub of the question. Who is better placed to assess risk in a given situation, the State or the individual? A true liberal would go for the individual in every circumstance. Hattersley, a truly antediluvian socialist, believes only the State can make these decisions about people's lives. Socialists don't trust people to make decisions that take into account the welfare of others, despite the daily evidence that this is palpable nonsense. The airport worker who tackled the suicide bomber, the man rescued from a flooded vehicle by a passer-by, the shoppers who help detain a thief. All have assessed the advantage to themselves (negligible) against the risk to others (great) and made decisions that the socialists think that people won't make unless compelled by the State to do so.

Ralph Harris, Lord Harris of High Cross, always described himself as a liberal, despite having been the intellectual foundation of Mrs Thatcher's economic revolution - without which the people of Britain would now be scratching in the dirt with sticks. Chairman of FOREST, the smoking rights group, up his death, he was a passionate advocate of personal freedom and an enemy of big government - a true liberal. The libdems as well as Lord Hattersley would do well to re-read Harris.
Alas, you need government, but big government is subject to such flaws, incorrigible flaws. Big government is irresponsible government because they can’t know all the circumstances of the nation, the society, the families that they are administering. Big government leads to all kinds of deals, backstage deals about policies, and all the time they are governed not by the public interest, but by the self-interest of the politicians to maintain their power. You need politicians, but the more you can contain politicians to the central tasks they have to do, the less you tempt them into this vote-grabbing, this corruption and deceit which is inseparable from modern, mass, undiscriminating democratic politics.

('A conversation with Harris and Seldon', IEA)

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Dawn Butler, Diane Abbott and Doreen Lawrence are enemies of cultural diversity

In an extraordinary and clearly orchestrated attack on Boris Johnson from hardline Livingstone supporters, our next Mayor is accused of 'racism' on the basis of the language Boris has used in some of his columns for the Telegraph. None of these ladies, worthy as they are, strikes me as properly understanding what racism is.

They represent that part of the left that in recent years has developed a novel lexicon that marks its users as adherents of a politically correct cabal in support of the now deeply discredited imposition of an idea of 'multiculturalism' on the people of England of whatever race, creed or colour. What in practice they support is the imposition of their own dreary intellectual monoculture. To an outsider, their lexicon is becoming increasingly absurd.

The phrase 'ethnic minorities' was long ago abandoned in favour of 'BME' or 'Black and minority ethnic'. Folks, let me tell you that to use 'BME' today is to be marked as one of the damned. The new, up to date phrase that indicates your membership of the monoculture is 'BAME' - black, asian and minority ethnic. Likewise immigrants are 'new communities'. And a bunch of religious bigots who believe eaters of Gherkins should be flayed to death or whatever is a 'faith community'.

John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, pointedly commented “Multiculturalism has seemed to imply, wrongly for me, let other cultures be allowed to express themselves but do not let the majority culture at all tell us its glories, its struggles, its joys, its pains.”. He may have added, and do not allow the majority culture to express itself in the world's richest and most distinguished language.

So let's make it very clear to Mistress Butler, Mistress Abbott and Mistress Lawrence that:
  • Expressing concerns about immigration is not racist,
  • 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' was not written by Satan but by Harriet Beecher Stowe to make known to the world the evils of slavery and how it was affecting the African people taken as slaves to America,
  • 'Pickaninny' is a word in common use amongst 'BAME' communities in many areas of the world including the Caribbean, west Africa, southern Africa and Papua New Guinea. It describes perfectly and with affectionate humour the impish, mischievous mien of a young child,
  • Those of us who do not adopt your dreary monocultural lexicon are not racist.
Our society and its language are as rich and diverse as an opulent fruit cake. To seek to censor or regulate it is to oppose cultural diversity. Boris is not racist - but these three ladies are an enemy to cultural diversity.